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The Fight to Protect Muskoka’s Bala Falls

Blog by Susan Brown | May 22nd, 2017

When Swift River Energy Ltd. announced their plans to build a hydro-electric project – a 4.5-megawatt run-of-river water power facility in Bala Falls, many people expressed their concern regarding the negative effects it would potentially cause to one of Muskoka’s natural treasures. The hydro-electric generating stationis scheduled to be constructed in the area where Lake Muskoka flows into the Moon River, near a park where visitors get to enjoy magnificent views of the waterfalls.


The people of Muskoka see the Bala Falls as a key attraction that drives the area’s economy. Many believe that if Swift River Energy Ltd. pushes through with the proposed project, it would cause irreversible damage to the landscape and Bala Falls itself, severely crippling the area’s businesses and economy, not to mention killing thousands of fish thatcould potentially get caught in the facility’s fast-spinning turbines.


While hydro-electric power plants are considered a good, clean source of energy, in this particular case, the negative effects certainly outweigh the benefits. For one, it would make the shorelines along the river unsafe. Recreational activities such as swimming, kayaking, and boating on the river will be rendered a thing of the past once the facility is in place. With most of Bala Falls’ water drawn into the gathering station, it would lead to the end of the falls itself, as well as the influx of tourists who all look forward to spending an enjoyable day in beautiful, natural surroundings.


Many of the people’s resentment stems from theirbelief that Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment doesn’t seem to be looking at the project thoroughly– disregarding economic impact studies, allowing incomplete and incorrect blueprints of the plant, and completely ignoring the harm it may cause to the fish and their natural habitat, among other things.


As of now, the hydroelectric facility still needs to secure several important permits and approvals before they can start construction. Many residents actively push for the cancellation of the project, organizing protests and rallies that oppose the hydroelectric facility, in hopes of saving Bala Falls and retaining the natural beauty of one of Muskoka’s world-class attractions.


If you’d like to help out or get more information about the efforts to save Bala Falls, visit www.savethebalafalls.com.